Joseph DiVincenzo, a longtime New Jersey political powerhouse, easily won a sixth term as Essex County executive, holding a commanding lead over his Republican challenger, Adam Kraemer, as the clock moved past midnight on Election Night.

DiVincenzo, whose last four years in office were largely devoted to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, was tallying 80.63% of the vote with 89% of the districts reporting. He first won the post in 2002. 

Kraemer was at 19.37%, promising to add to a record for losing elections that is epic. A credit representative for a manufacturing company, this was Kraemer’s 12th bid for elected office – and potentially his 12th loss. Most recently, he lost a race for state Senate last year and for the Essex County Board of Freeholders (since changed to the Essex County Board of County Commissioners) in 2020. 

For DiVincenzo, his stranglehold on his seat seemed to be assured with another impressive Election Night, underscoring the overwhelming support Essex County voters generally give to Democrats. In his last contest in 2018, DiVincenzo held off challengers with virtually the identical percentage of votes.

In the June 2022 primaries for county executive, the Democratic race drew more than 27,000 total votes, while the Republican primary did not reach 4,000 total votes. 

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and advent of a vaccine later that year, DiVincenzo oversaw a response that spanned several free vaccination sites across the county. In total, under his watch, more than 600,000 shots and more than 300,000 tests were administered at these sites. 

DiVincenzo and his staff also set up a robo-call system to keep the public in the know on COVID-19 statistics and the dangers posed by the virus.

Even without strong competition, in the runup to the election DiVincenzo was active on the campaign trail. On Nov. 4 he attended the 29th annual Blue Mass in Newark to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement officers. Later that day, he delivered more than 5,000 boxes of food to Essex County residents at the South Mountain Recreation Center. He followed that with an appearance at the county’s Paper Shredding Day in Cedar Grove as a way to show support for recycling and environmentalism. 

Divincenzo, now 70, first held public office in 1990. Before becoming county executive, DiVincenzo served on the Essex County Board of Freeholders for 12 years, including eight years as the board president.

Kraemer, his opponent this time around, assailed DiVincenzo over concerns about public safety, saying in a Facebook post that crime had increased in Essex County and damaged morale among corrections officers.

He also labeled DiVincenzo a career politician.

“It is time for a change, and it is time to end one party domination in Essex County,” Kraemer wrote on Facebook. “Only Line A Democrats have held any county office for well over a decade and the people of Essex County, not a county party chair, should choose our elected officials.”